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Showing posts from 2019

The “Grit” Readiness Tests, Part 2 [Clothed Survival Swimming] by Mark Hatmaker

[For the mindset behind the following see Part 1.]

The car plunges through the guard rail into the river below…

The recreational boat sinks from beneath you at 2AM…

The bridge long overdue for inspection fails beneath you…

The proverbial “100-year flood” occurs and that formerly high and dry street becomes a strictured fast-water nozzle strong enough to sweep cars and humans…

The non-swimming loved one is thrashing and flailing mid-water…

Your “unsinkable” luxury liner sinks beneath as you sip brandy in the smoking-room…

The ability to swim and maneuver well in water, or as the old-timers called it, being possessed of good watermanship, is of ultimate importance at these times.

But…again we often fail to consider that even if we possess the vital skill of swimming, like all other endeavors, it is subject to state-dependent learning.

That is, if we learn our combat skills in a nice, calm, no-worries zone that is in no way reflective of the conditions of the actual battlefield, just how likely a…

Assumptions Can Get You Killed: The Ludic Fallacy by Mark Hatmaker

Today’s combat voyage will take us into the mind of a legendary Civil War guerrilla fighter and what he learned from 17th-century French drama. We’ll discuss two logical/cognitive fallacies and how they can drive even quite effective martial arts into useless margins, and, if we’ve been paying attention we’ll wind up back with our guerilla fighter and how to play the game well by not playing the game at all.”

We’ll start with our French drama and not the Guerrilla warrior, you’ll see why we start here before we’re through.

The following passage is from Moliere’s 1670 play The Bourgeois Gentleman, the premise of which is that a shopkeeper newly come into money decides that to be one of the upper-crust he needs to take great pains to “become cultured.” He engages numerous “culture instructors” who gladly take his money and leave him none the wiser or better cultured.

One of these “culture instructors” is a fencing master who teaches him a few basics in the form of a call-and-response patt…

Rough ‘n’ Tumble Snapshot: Real Pit-Fighting by Mark Hatmaker

In 1986, John Hackleman launched his gym The Pit and fighters from this base were known as pit-fighters. The most renowned of these pit-fighters was former UFC-light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell.

Pit-fighting was in actuality a harder form of Hawaiian Kempo, which in itself was formerly known as Kajukenbo, yet another hybrid martial art originating in Hawaii in the late 1940s. 

The admittedly awkward word, Kajukenbo, was mean to do honor to the arts that constituted its whole: Karate, Judo, Jujitsu, Kenpo, and Boxing. 

Not a bad mix at all.

Kajukenbo still survives under that original name, with some branches calling itself Hawaiian Kenpo, and Coach Hackleman ballparking on Hawaiian Kempo [note the “m”] to emphasize the harder approach to training and application that he advocates.

I’m sure you noticed that, so far, the arts we have discussed are Eastern in origin.

Exactly how do we get to our discussion of rough ‘n’ tumble roots?

Back to the phrase “pit-fighting.” We simply needed to …

The Truth of Old School Tough by Mark Hatmaker

In my daily gig as old school combat archeologist I come across countless stories, tales, anecdotes and reportage claiming that “The Old-Timers were tougher than ‘these kids today.’”

The flip-side to that glorification of the past argument is that “these kids today” get the gift of standing on all of that accumulated old-school wisdom and the added bonus of attaching modern day bells and whistles to make today’s combat cadre tougher than the prior generations.

So which story is true?

Were the bad-asses of yore the tip of the top?

Or…is it today’s crop of combatateers that prove the creamiest?

This often leads to the old chestnut of a question “Who would win between [insert past legend and legend in the making]?”

There is simply no way to conduct such past and present comparisons with any sort of scientific rigor without aid of a time-machine.

So, until we are provided with such a chronal-distortion device are we left without an answer to the “Who was tougher, the old-timers or the youngsters…

Counter-Grappling & Specious Tactics by Mark Hatmaker

What do I do if I guy had me in this hold?”

“What do I do if the guy knows jujitsu?”

“What do if a guy is a good wrestler?”

Combat Arts Instructors get these kinds of questions all the time. The question usually has a simple formulation with the interrogator not quite aware yet [due to inexperience] that they have posited quite a vast open-ended query.

The inexperienced questioner is never at fault for questions along these lines.

Here’s where the quibble begins [in Mark’s mind.]

Any answer along the lines of: “Well, all you have to do is just…”

The implication that there is a simplistic answer to a large physical endeavor shows a good deal of short-sightedness or a staggering amount of hubris.

We never succumb to such simplistic answers to encompassing questions in other physical domains.

For example, if our naïve interlocuter asks “What if I’m playing football and he has the ball?”


You immediately would want to start corralling that question down with your own series of counter-question…